A rolling stone gathers no moss, but a crawling baby picks up hella dirt — or, more specifically, a bunch of bacteria, dead skin cells, and maybe even some fungal spores. In order to better understand just how much of these gross particles babies are inhaling, researchers over at Purdue built a “simplified robot crawling infant.”
This tinfoil-wrapped cyclops, spotted by Boing Boing, mashes its golf club-like — arms? — arms onto the floor to simulate how much dust a real baby would kick up. According to Purdue’s findings, which were published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, not only did this filth child stir up a cloud of nasty particles with a concentration as much as 20 times greater than geographically higher spots in a room, but baby bodies aren’t as well equipped to handle what they inhale. “For an adult, a significant portion of the biological particles are removed in the upper respiratory system, in the nostrils and throat,” says lead researcher Brandon Boor in a statement earlier this month.
“But for very young children, they more often breathe through their mouths, and a significant fraction is deposited in the lower airways — the tracheobronchial and pulmonary regions. The particles make it to the deepest regions of their lungs.” So, in other words, this is bad for their respiration. However, Boor adds that this could also improve their immune system. “Numerous studies have shown that when an infant is exposed to a very high diversity of microbes, at a high concentration, they can have a lower rate of asthma later in life,” he says.
Purdue didn’t have much to offer in the way of prevention, but perhaps that’s for the best. Please do not wrap your human baby or tiny merchild in tinfoil.